Amid his chances of winning reelection dwindling, Senator Bill Nelson’s “Coast Guard Authorization Act” was passed 94 to 6, and it passed with Senator Marco Rubio’s support.
Senator Nelson cowrote the legislation.
The bill ensures that $10.6 billion will be used for the Coast Guard, which is a 16% increase in budget. In addition, the bill includes an agreement concerning the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, which will result in the EPA creating ballast water and other vessel discharge standards while making sure that no states have stricter standards than the guidelines provided by the EPA.
Senator Rubio, praising the bill for the VIDA agreement, noted that the legislation “will create a national, uniform standard for regulating ballast water and other incidental discharges from vessels and exempts small commercial vessels from burdensome regulations.”
Rubio added that “The Coast Guard plays a vital role in protecting our homeland’s security throughout our nation and across Florida’s waterways. Enacting the VIDA provision I championed will allow American vessel operators to do their jobs without burdensome regulations and bureaucratic red tape. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I look forward to securing more funding for the men and women of the Coast Guard so that we can continue to provide critical disaster relief, prevent drug smuggling and promote our national security interests.”
Commenting on the work that the Coast Guard has done in recent weeks, Senator Nelson detailed that “Just last month I saw firsthand the Coast Guard’s efforts in protecting life and property following Hurricane Michael. Coast Guard ships, planes and helicopters came from across the country to help hundreds of people on the Florida Panhandle. The Coast Guard, as always, was there to assist.”
On Tuesday, when Senator Nelson took to the Senate Floor to comment on the legislation, he said that “This is a good bill and one we can be proud of. Passing it will ensure the Coast Guard has the tools it needs to continue to carry out its many important missions, including its maritime rescue, disaster response and drug interdiction roles so many Americans have come to depend on.”